During the first weeks of 2003, after exotic Newcastle disease (END) was confirmed in commercial layer flocks in Southern California, it became apparent that the virus survival information in the literature varied widely and was difficult to extrapolate to current local conditions. The END Task Force used the information available in the literature and the recommendations of research scientists to establish protocols for safely handling manure from infected and depopulated premises. In an attempt to gain more applicable knowledge in the management of contaminated poultry manure in the course of the END outbreak, this virus survival study was designed and implemented. Environmental drag swabs were tested for END virus from two of the early-infected commercial ranches that consisted of several houses following immediate removal of the infected flocks. A total of 293 samples, composed of 168 manure drag swab pools, 72 dropping board swab pools, and 38 compost swab pools from 3 houses (ranch 1), and 180 manure belt scraper swab pools from ranch 2 were analyzed for ND virus isolation and characterization for 21 consecutive days postdepopulation. Thirteen manure drag swab pools (from houses 1 and 3) and two manure dropping board swab pools (from house 3) collected from ranch 1 were positive for END virus at 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 10, 12, and 16 days postdepopulation. No END virus was isolated after the 16th day following depopulation from any of the samples. All samples from ranch 2 were negative during the entire observation period.
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Vol. 48 • No. 3